Agri-tourism As an Enterprise Diversification Strategy for California Producers
Conducting risk assessments of their farm or ranch assets and evaluating the costs and benefits of diversifying a current farm enterprise helped drive the business planning process for over 129 participants considering agri-tourism.
For the past two years (2011-13), the Small Farm Program at the University of California Davis has delivered workshops in southern and central California on agri-tourism as an income diversification strategy to add value to farm and ranch operations. While the majority of participants (151) increased their understanding and ability to manage the legal and regulatory risks associated with these types of enterprises, the mini business planning sessions taught by local partners including SBDC and established ag operators, provided a strong foundation for understanding the benefits of the business planning process and the confidence for 118 producers to begin drafting their own business and marketing plans. Additionally, 68 producers learned how to conduct a market analysis and draft their own outline of a marketing strategy for an agri-tourism enterprise.
Currently – 90 small-scale producers in Monterey, Riverside and Ventura Counties are working with a diverse group of Extension and local ag partners to manage the risks for developing and implementing an agri-tourism business.
“We are in an area that used to have 300 dairies and now there are only 3. We knew we needed to recreate our business if it was going to stay. Prior to the Agritourism Intensive classes, we really hadn’t looked at risk management. We had to go back and look at our liability coverage to make sure the hands-on experience we wanted to offer the public would be safe for visitors, our employees and our family.
After the class, we applied for and received a USDA grant to develop a feasibility study for an on-site local creamery at our dairy operation. We have hired students from the university business department and a woman who ran the recent dairy show to do the marketing survey. I have also developed release of liability paperwork for our dairy tours.”
Stacy Konyn, Frank Konyn Dairy, San Diego California
“When my daughter and I took the course (on behalf of all members of our family business) we had only just planted our lavender crop a few months prior. We already had a pretty clear vision of what we intend to do with the business when we entered the class, which is to host ‘U-pick’ days during the summer and to sell our products from our farm stand, as well as online. However, we signed up for the course in the hope that we would get more clarity on how to navigate the many steps required by our local government in order to successfully achieve our vision. My daughter and I found the class to be very informative, helpful and fun! One of the most valuable lessons within the course was the liability information for better business/safety practices protecting our customers, as well as how to protect ourselves when the public is coming on to our farm. After that class, we immediately contacted our insurance agent to verify our level of liability coverage and adjusted our layout for the visitors area of our farm. Luckily my daughter has a background in marketing and public relations, so we already had a presence on social media sites prior to the class and prior to being open to the public, but even she got some great ideas from having taken the class. We have made A LOT of progress since the course concluded…we now have a beautiful business logo, business cards, packaging for our products, a website from which we have already been selling our items, etc. AND we plan to open our (still maturing) lavender field and farm stand to the public this summer!”
Elizabeth Bunz, Bywater Hollow Lavender, Lincoln California